Coriander, Fennel & Mint Lamb Meatballs

Lamb Meatballs

It’s no secret, my eating habits are largely dictated by the weather and these meatballs are certainly no exception.  Last week, I found myself in my cozy kitchen seeking shelter from a spring slop-storm and immediately scrapped the “oh, I’ll just make a nice healthy salad for dinner” plan I’d originally had and made a big pile of meatballs for dinner instead.

And I’ve got to say, these meatballs were worth suffering through the bout of spring slush to experience.  They’re tender and fragrant, spiced with coriander and fennel, that have been simmered in a simple tomato sauce.  They’re speckled with black olives, spiked with fresh mint, and just the thing to put on your plate on a rainy night.

 Okay, let’s make some meatballs!  You’ll need ground lamb,a can of tomatoes, an egg, breadcrumbs and yogurt, a shallot, black olives, a bouquet of fresh mint, red pepper, coriander seeds, and fennel.

Lamb Meatball IngredientsCombine the breadcrumbs with the yogurt and let the mixture sit and soften into a thick paste that we’ll use to bind our meatballs.  Meanwhile, toast the spices until you start to smell them.  Mince a shallot, chop the olives, chiffonade some mint, and whisk the egg.

Making Lamb Meatballs_edited-1

Put it all together and mix.  Get in there with your hands to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Mixing Lamb Meatballs

Ready to roll.  I made my lamb meatballs pretty large because I just plopped them on couscous when I finished.  If you want to put them in a pita or in pasta, you might want to go a bit smaller.

Brown the meatballs, then pull them out of the pan and make a quick tomato sauce–just sauté some shallot, add crushed tomatoes, season, and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the meatballs to the sauce and let it bubble away until the lamb is cooked through and the tomato sauce has picked up the flavor and fragrance of the meatballs.

And it’s dinner time.  Pile the meatballs on a mound of couscous and finish with a sprinkle of fresh mint.  Or you could make a killer meatball sandwich with a hunk of baguette and a smear of goat cheese.  Or toss pasta with the tomato sauce and top with a few lamb meatballs.  Make the meatballs mini and serve them on a toothpick.  You’ve got options.

Lamb Meatballs with Tomato, Mint & Black Olives

Coriander, Fennel & Mint Lamb Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These meatballs are delicious over couscous, with pasta, or in a sandwich. I imagine if you made them tiny, they’d be great as a pizza topping!
Recipe type: Dinner, Meat, Lamb
Serves: 4-6

  • For the Meatballs:
  • ½ c. Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ c. Plain Yogurt
  • 1 # Ground Lamb
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • ¼ c. chopped flavorful Black Olives (I used oil-cured olives; Kalamata would work too)
  • 1 heaping tsp. Coriander Seeds, toasted and slightly crushed (*see notes)
  • 1 heaping tsp. Fennel Seeds, toasted and slightly crushed
  • ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. thinly sliced Mint Leaves
  • Olive Oil
    For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 14 oz. can Italian Plum Tomatoes, crushed
    To Finish:
  • 3 Tbsp. thinly sliced Mint Leaves
  • crumbled Feta or Goat Cheese, optional but a very tasty addition!
  1. Mix together the breadcrumbs and yogurt in a small bowl and allow to sit and soften for a few minutes.
  2. Combine the lamb, breadcrumb mixture, egg, 1 minced shallot, olives, coriander and fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 3 Tbsp. mint, and about ½ tsp. of kosher salt in a medium bowl. Use your (clean) hands to mix the ingredients together until everything has been evenly incorporated. Form the mixture into 1½ in. balls and place on a baking sheet. If you have time, chill the formed meatballs for 30 minutes (or more) before cooking them, as I find they hold their shape better if they’re cold.
  3. Heat a couple of Tbsp. of olive oil in a Dutch oven or wide skillet. Add half of the meatballs and brown all around, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Add a little more olive oil to the pan if it is dry, brown the remaining meatballs, and transfer to the plate.
  4. If there’s a lot of fat in the pan, drain all but a thin coating off; if the pan is dry, add a touch of olive oil. Add the minced shallot, season with salt, and sauté over medium-high heat until softened, 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes then add the crushed tomatoes. Season the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Nestle the browned meatballs into the tomatoes and simmer together until the meatballs have cooked through and the tomatoes are thick and saucy and have picked up the flavor of the meatballs, 15-20 minutes. Scatter the remaining mint over the meatballs and serve. I served mine over couscous and crumbled a bit of chèvre over the top, post pictures.


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